Constantina Tomescu-Dita of Romania, the breakway winner of the Olympic women's marathon in Beijing, is running the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Oct. 12. The announcement came today in a press release that highlighted the men's and women's elite fields as of today (Sept. 9). Leading man for now is Kenyan William Kipsang, who won the Rotterdam Marathon in April in a spiffy 2:05:49. Despite a tough economy and a new boss, executive race director Carey Pinkowski has delivered again.
The press release follows:
2008 Bank of America Chicago Marathon Announces Elite Field
2008 Olympic Women's Marathon Gold Medalist Constantina Tomescu-Dita Tops List
CHICAGO (September 9, 2008) - Bank of America today announced the elite field of male and female athletes scheduled to compete for the 2008 Bank of America Chicago Marathon® championship titles on Sunday, Oct. 12. Topping the list is newly crowned Olympic women's marathon gold medalist Constantina Tomescu-Dita of Romania and up-and-comer William Kipsang of Kenya who currently holds the 11th all-time fastest marathon finish time, fifth-fastest this year (2:05:49).
At age 38, Tomescu-Dita became the oldest woman to ever win the gold medal in the 26.2-mile Olympic contest. Familiar to Chicagoans, Tomescu-Dita won the 2004 ChicagoMarathon and her 2008 appearance will mark her fifth on the notoriously fast and flat course. In her last two Chicago appearances, Tomescu-Dita finished second to American Deena Kastor (2005) and led the 2006 women's field at course record pace (sub-2:17) through mile 16 before being surpassed by eventual champion Berhane Adere (ETH) in the 22nd mile.
"I am delighted to be returning to Chicago. I have always felt great running there and have been fortunate to have some of the best races of my life there," said Tomescu-Dita from Romania shortly following her Olympic victory in Beijing. "It will also be nice to return because I understand Chicago is bidding for the 2016 Olympic Games and I think it would be a wonderful place to have them."
Tomescu-Dita will be challenged by 2007 Chicago Marathon runner-up and fellow Romanian Adriana Pirtea, 28, and up-and-comer Bezunesh Bekele, 25, of Ethiopia. Chicago fans will recognize Pirtea who came into the final stretch last year with a sizeable lead. As she pumped her arm in victory a few hundred meters from the finish, returning 2006 Chicago champ Adere streaked up behind her unnoticed until she was uncatchable in the final strides to repeat her championship finish. Bekele will follow-up her impressive debut at the Dubai Marathon entering the Chicago race with a 2:23:09 personal record, second in the field only to Tomescu-Dita.
On the men's side, William Kipsang, 31, is the man to beat arriving off a 2:05:49 first-place finish at the Rotterdam Marathon in April. Kenya's Emmanuel Mutai, 30, will put some pressure on Kipsang considering his fourth-place finish at the Flora London Marathon in April where he set a personal record (2:06:15). Also expected to be in the mix is fellow countryman Richard Limo who finished second to Mutai at last year's Amsterdam Marathon, crossing the line only 16 seconds behind the champion.
"The Bank of America Chicago Marathon has a reputation for producing historic efforts and breathtaking finishes and the quality of this year's elite field is an extension of that tradition," said Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski of Chicago Event Management, now in his 19th year overseeing the event. "This year's men's field features four men who have run under 2:07:00, one who has run under 2:06:00 and champions from some of the great marathons of the world which should produce another great day of marathon running on Oct. 12."
Representing the United States in Chicago are Kate O'Neill and Colleen De Reuck. O'Neill, 28, will return to the site of her 2007 debut at the marathon distance, looking to best her time of 2:36:15 on the Chicago course. Masters runner Colleen De Reuck, 44, will return for her sixth Chicago Marathon.
The elite racers will start the 26.2-mile Bank of AmericaChicagoMarathon course at 7:55 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 12, five minutes in advance of the massive field of 45,000 registered runners. Following is the current list of elite athletes who will compete for the $125,000 first-place prize distributed to the top male and female overall winners.
2008 Bank of America Chicago Marathon Elite Field
Name Citizenship Personal Record
Bezunesh Bekele ETH 2:23:09
Alevtina Biktimirova RUS 2:25:12
Colleen De Reuck USA 2:26:35
Zoila Gomez USA 2:33:53
Lidiya Grigoryeva RUS 2:25:10
Kate O'Neill USA 2:36:15
Adriana Pirtea ROU 2:28:52
Kiyoko Shimahara JPN 2:26:14
Worknesh Tola ETH 2:25:37
Constantina Tomescu-Dita ROU 2:21:30
Moses Arusei KEN 2:06:50
Christopher Cheboiboch KEN 2:08:17
Timothy Cherigat KEN 2:09:34
James Getanda KEN 2:11:50
Salim Kipsang KEN 2:07:29
William Kipsang KEN 2:05:49
Richard Limo KEN 2:06:45
Emmanuel Mutai KEN 2:06:15